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Auckland Council collaborates with business and community to revegetate environment

Auckland Council collaborates with business and community to revegetate environment
July 17, 2020

Thousands of native plants in public parks and open spaces across Auckland have been planted by Auckland business and community groups working together with Auckland Council to revegetate and regenerate the environment.

This collaboration aims to achieve the ambitious goal of the Council’s Urban Ngahere Strategy to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 30%.

Between 2013 and 2018 average urban ngahere (forest) canopy cover across Auckland increased by about 60 hectares, an area equivalent to around 60 sports fields.

Auckland Councillor and Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair Richard Hills notes “Healthy, flourishing forest canopies are the lungs of our city.

“The benefits from our urban ngahere range from supporting climate resilience to stormwater management to animal habitats and even providing shady spots for families to enjoy a day at the park.

“Unfortunately, the 2015 changes to the Resource Management Act has meant a really difficult few years for Auckland’s environment as the removal of a blanket tree protection led to ongoing losses of mature trees across the city and particularly on privately-owned property.

“Fortunately, new data shows we have maintained the overall size of our forest canopy across urban Auckland and are even seeing healthy new growth on public land. It’s so exciting to see the hard work start to show up in the data.”

Hills adds “despite this, inequities remain. There are areas where tree cover is far lower than others and well below our targets. Addressing this inequity is a real priority for us.

“I want children across Auckland, no matter the suburb, to be able to walk home from school sheltered from the sun.

“It takes years to see the trees planted grow large enough to show up in our data. What we prioritise now will have an impact well into the future.

“Everybody can do their bit to help protect and grow trees in Auckland and be a good environmental steward for the city.

“It’s really heartening to see so many people getting involved with planting initiatives – community and business involvements like this are at the heart of what it takes to make positive changes to our environment and for the good of our climate.”

Deputy Chair Councillor Pippa Coom emphasises the role of volunteers and community groups and advises “Community involvement is vital in growing and caring for trees – as we’re seeing in places like Totara Park and Puhinui Reserve – and through groups like the Kaipatiki Project. Our community want to see an increase in tree cover and have made an enormous difference through planting, ecological improvement and pest control.

“We really need to acknowledge their efforts and thank them for both their advocacy and work on and in the ground. It’s encouraging to see our urban forest cover maintaining and even beginning to grow again as it is a real priority for the council and for Auckland.”

Auckland Council Head of Parks Services, Mark Bowater, explains that alongside new planting initiatives one of the first projects underway is to benchmark the state and size of Auckland’s tree canopies to help inform future work.

Bowater explains “we have embarked on a series of research initiatives and our first snapshot report shows no loss to the overall size of Auckland’s urban forests.

“Between 2013 and 2016-2018 when the survey was conducted tree canopy gains balanced out overall losses and there was a slight positive net growth across the city, which indicates the council is holding its own on public land.

“These results are promising for Auckland but there is much more work ahead if we are to keep making a positive trajectory on growing the scale of our urban forests – and to help offset loss of mature trees.

“Building key partnerships with businesses, groups and various agencies’ in support for the Urban Ngahere Strategy’s goals has been a crucial first step towards this.”

Image: Community groups and council come together to plant cabbage trees at Puhinui. Credit: Auckland Council Parks volunteer team

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